OK, I have not initiated a Finextra blog for a while. Time to at least put an alternate perspective on the raft of NFC spawned mobile payment announcements. NFC is being embedded in devices. POS terminals are being cycled to include NFC readers. The
public are being groomed to go ‘contactless’. All well and good.
But I have a problem calling this ‘mobile payments’. Yes there are many definitions for mobile payments and certainly waving your mobile in front of a NFC reader is payment involving your mobile. But do any of these announcements involve you actually paying
with your mobile, and I mean does the transaction get added to your mobile bill. I think not.
The banks and card issuers are running the show and the marketers are doing a grand job telling the public that ‘mobile’ payments are here. The mobile operators are tagging along and playing catchup (again) doing deals with these innovators. For the moment
it drives Operator brand awareness and some NFC mobile device sales. The mobile wallet though is, as far as I can tell, always a bank/card based prepay account. Your NFC on the mobile is simply identifying which prepay card account you are registered with
and debiting that ‘wallet’.
What are the details about topping up the wallet. Where can you transfer funds from – a bank account probably, but as a minimum you should be able to top-up the bank wallet from your mobile account – that would show more of a partnership between bank and
Maybe the mobile operators have plans in the future to have their own mobile operator based ‘wallet’. This of course doesn’t even need NFC or the NFC POS terminal because the operator can use the radio network, and be online … they just need to enable the
physical merchant. I can think of a few ways to do it.
The key though will be in the Apps that are released to support the use of the schemes being marketed. I expect most of these to be glorified App-banking clients which centre on the provisioning of the NFC and administration of the bank based wallet. But
they could also be the way that the Mobile Operators launch their next gen m-commerce which is what I call ‘mobile payments’ and will offer an alternative to 'tap and hold' payments.